An introduction to Simon Pettet’s Come Va, a book of poems in
English and Italian, translated by Alberto Masala and others, to be published by Porto dei Santi, Sardinia.
In any place, any time, there’s a sudden light, or
lift of breeze, a bird just settling, paper fluttering down, beloved’s
face changing from smile to frown — to smile again perhaps. There are no
rewards to be gained, no purposes simply to be respected. If there’s a
job, one does it, like everyone else, going to work. No one’s ever keeping
score but one keeps at it despite.
Poetry isn’t just the time
out, when there’s respite ‘far from the madding crowd.’ Nine
tenths of us would probably get lost in the woods while the rest would never
leave the city, to begin with. It’s not ‘emotions recollected in
tranquility,’ great though that sounds, because there’s not that
chance. One keeps at it and if there is a space, it’s usually filled with
waiting for something or someone, who said they’d be here at seven.
It’s not apart, ever, but always as particular as whistling, or catching
something thrown, hopefully not in anger.
This isn’t to say
that a poet never gets to sleep but it is to make clear that a poet, at least
one like Simon Pettet, is always on the job, always available, always moving to
the next moment. So much of one’s life is graphed out (grossed out?) with
determining patterns, and one can’t really treat the squares like
hopscotch. It can never be ‘hop, skip and a jump’ for the
self-invested traveler, just more and more money, presuming luck. I recall a
statement made by a previous U.S. Secretary of State, to the effect that while
two thirds of the human race is asleep, the remaining third is awake and
probably up to some mischief. Clearly, he was never
‘For A Muse Ment’ is the title the poet Robert
Duncan once gave a poem, dedicating it to his peer and alter ego, the
British-American poet Denise Levertov. Amusement is a full time preoccupation,
and, as Rimbaud usefully insisted, one is wise to make ‘the magical
study’ which happiness is. Just so the fact of William and Catherine Blake
sitting stark naked in their small back garden in Lambeth, reading
Milton’s Paradise Lost. When a
friend surprised them there, Blake’s response was, ‘It’s only
Adam and Eve, you know.’
I wish I were in my own garden now,
naked or not, reading Simon Pettet. He has been such a bright and consistent
light amidst the usual gathering glooms. He lives as though life were its own
pleasure, which it is and must obviously be. He sounds those same simplicities
of profound music Blake also knew. He moves with a deft and practiced quiet.
‘It is as though he were telling us/ that this small space/ contains the
pattern for/ all eternity.’ He speaks the truth.